Pinterest is all about fall fashion right now and it is awesome. The sad problem is I won’t be able to wear 99 percent of the clothes being pinned from New York Fashion Week (NYFW). I’m a big girl, and plus-size and fashion rarely (if ever) go together. However, I was excited to see two up-and-coming designers, Zana Bayne and Becca McCharen, thinking about me and other plus-sized women during NYFW. It’s wonderful to see women of all body types walk within the same show.
Bayne, a 25-year-old fashion designer, first rose to fame as a fashion blogger. She started the much loved blog Garbage Dress when she was still in high school. Her work is usually centered around harnesses and leather, as she feels it can truly transform a person when they put it on.
This was Bayne’s NYFW debut, but she has always used women of all shapes and backgrounds to model her accessories. Bayne tells Elle magazine:
“I loved the idea of just representing women: someone with a flat chest, someone with a full bust, curves, no curves. I just wanted to showcase a variety of gorgeous girls. Even with my finale model, who is a mother, it was important to showcase that archetype as well. It’s about celebrating all women.”
Including plus-sized models wasn’t about making headlines or a political statement, Bayne wanted a “cohesive collection to showcase on different bodies.”
Becca McCharen is a 29-year-old former Peace Corp volunteer and the designer behind Chromat. She also used plus-sized models during her NYFW runway show. Denise Bidot, a stunning Puerto Rican/Kuwaiti plus-sized model, opened McCharen’s show.
Bidot is a personal she-ro of mine, as she has broken down many walls within the plus size fashion world. The 26-year-old also has a daughter who has been coming to shoots with her since she was a baby.
“She knows that modeling is just a business — all the hair extensions, the fake eyelashes, the makeup, it’s all strategic, not authentic. She knows that no one, not even the models, look like that in real life. She’s so cute. When I come home at night in my fake eyelashes, she’ll tell me, ‘Mami, you don’t need those!'”
Backstage at NYFW, Bidot told Cosmopolitan, “I think it’s about time that we represent all women on the catwalk because that is a part of fashion. The way I see it, there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”
Admiring these plus-sized women and the designers who had them within their shows is one thing, but how does that translate into actual, tangible plus-sized fashion for the average large woman? For the most part, women are still viewed as hangers for clothing within the fashion industry, and the larger your frame, the more invisible you become.
When I walk into a department store, the plus section is often hard to find. Sometimes tucked away by the maternity section, sometimes overtaken by the sales racks, and it’s always significantly smaller than the regular size section. I’ve become accustomed to being thankful for whatever I can find because something is always better than nothing.
I’ve bought horrendous shirts with elastic bands at the waist, ill-fitting pants, dresses with no shape, and thank goodness we can all agree yoga pants are OK, because it’s a staple in my wardrobe. I’d love to be able to walk into a store and have rows and rows of options. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have so many choices for jeans!
Yes, I know there are plus-size stores happily and eagerly waiting for my dollars, but most of them know the market is slim pickings and it hurts when poorly made clothes cost a lot. There are also upscale plus-size designers who make delicious and well-made clothes that I would be very happy to wear, but I could never afford to buy.
There are ripples of change happening within the industry. Recently, online clothing retailer Modcloth conducted a survey of women aged 18-44. The results shouldn’t be surprising. “More U.S. women report wearing a size 16 than 0, 2, and 4 combined. And 80% of plus-size women said they would spend more on apparel if they could find flattering clothes.”
What IS surprising is that Modcloth is using the data to provide more clothing options. The fastest growing division of Modcloth is now plus-size clothing. The company is working with 160 vendors just on plus-sized garments alone. Modcloth projects their sales will double in 2014.
This plus-sized mama is glad the shift in the industry is happening, but I will be even happier when it happens at a nice price point and at a retail store near me.More On